Tips for holding a wedding in-line with the Quran & Sunnah.
I’ve been wanting to write this for a while now. Since a fellow Muslim sister of mine just announced that she is marrying soon in a few months’ time, insha’Allah, I decided this would be a good time. May Allah make everything smooth for them and guard them from the accursed. I dedicate this post to them and I hope this post will be beneficial for them and for others in a way or another.
Before I begin, let me first state that we are not married yet! In the midst of our wedding preparations, we have done some research on the sunnah of our prophet Muhammad (pbuh) with regards to weddings, and insha’Allah we’d like to summarize them here. Therefore if you have anything else to add or correct (especially if you are already married!) please share them in the comments as well.
A Muslim wedding essentially comprises of these two parts:
A. the nikah (i.e. the solemnization ceremony, basically the Muslim equivalence of “I do”)
I will not cover this in depth, as I believe these would have been covered during the Marriage Preparatory Course or can be found on other sites, insya’Allah. In a nutshell, these are the main areas:
- What are required, or wajib:
- The akad nikah, or Sighah, as facilitated by the Kadi or the Naib Kadi. Also called the ‘Offer & Acceptance’ or Ijab & Kabul
- The two witnesses
- The bride’s guardian (Wali)
- The bride & groom
- Mahr (or in malay, Maskahwin). In Singapore, the minimum value of this is SGD$100.
- The Taklik, or clause. This has to be recited by the groom if you are following madhhab Shafii. The taklik basically protects the bride; it attaches Talak to conditions.
- Cultural acts: Putting on the rings (Note that for men, gold is haram and silver is sunnah), kissing the husband’s hand, kissing the bride’s forehead. These fall under the category of harus i.e. they are not wajib, sunnah, but neither are they haram.
- The specific dua to be recited after nikah, or the marriage sermon
- The groom placing hands on wife’s head and reciting a specific dua
- The sunnah 2-rakaat prayer after nikah
The last two points may not necessarily be done straight after the nikah; you may do them before consummating the marriage.
One point I wish to add in here is to ensure that the nikah ceremony is being respected. This was a point raised by Ustaz Zahid Zin, a Naib Kadi here in Singapore; often we have guests ‘cheering on’ the groom or teasing him. A possible suggestion is to announce to the guests beforehand, requesting them to respect the ceremony and the Naib Kadi.
B. the walimah (the wedding feast, or the marriage banquet)
In malay, the walimah is equivalent to the Majlis Persandingan. In this post I will focus on this aspect, as I feel that societal and cultural expectations seem to clash with how the walimah should be held according to Islam.
- Having a walimah is sunnah; some scholars deem it as obligatory. As narrated by Sayyiduna Anas ibn Malik RA, Nabi Muhammad (pbuh) said to Abdur Rahman ibn Awf RA:
May Allah bless you (in your marriage), perform a Walima, even if it is only with a goat (Bukhari)
- However, this does not mean that you have to spend excessively on the feast; in fact, spending excessively or spending beyond your means (Israf) is against what God has ordained for us. Extravagance is a trait of shaytaan.
Indeed, the wasteful are brothers of the devils, and ever has Shaytan been to his Lord ungrateful. (Quran 17:27)
O, you who believe! Make not unlawful the good things which Allah has made lawful for you, but commit no excess: for Allah loves not those given to excess. (Quran 5:87)
EDIT: I also found this hadith which supports this point:
The most blessed marriage (nikah) is the one with the least expenses (Bayhaqi)
Keeping this in mind, I don’t think I need to mention much about spending excessively on expensive venues, multiple outfits, hantaran items and other optional items such as live-stations, intricate performances & dances, photobooths, etc.
In Singapore, it is a few hundred for void-deck, about 2-3k for community centre, and often more than 10k for restaurants, country clubs or hotels. My personal suggestion is go for the first two. If you neighbourhood is as absolutely dirty as mine, then consider community centres but do your research (you have to call them up or e-mail; most won’t have the prices displayed on sites). If you absolutely want your wedding in a restaurant or whatever, make sure you study their packages well and look out for certain periods of the year that they will have promotions.
- It is also important to ensure that your feast is not exclusively for the rich. Sayyiduna Abu Huraira RA narrated that:
The worst food is that of a wedding banquet (walima) to which only the rich are invited whilst the poor are not invited. (Bukhari)
- It is sunnah for the marriage to be conducted in mosques.
EDIT: Apologies as I have previously included a hadith here that is weak. However, to my knowledge, the four jurists agree that it is indeed sunnah to hold the marriage in the mosque; you may refer to this link for details.
I’m not sure about other countries, but I believe in Singapore it is not very common to hold the walimah in the mosques. The muslim weddings here usually invite hundreds of people (sadly) and hence holding them in mosques may disrupt those who are doing the prayers. As such, to my knowledge it is sufficient to hold the nikah ceremony in the mosque, while the walimah can be held someplace else.
Do observe the proper adab during your ceremonies, especially in the mosques. This includes donning the hijab properly, adhering to the laws of ikhtilat, keeping the menstruating women from the prayer areas, etc.
- According the opinion of a majority of scholars, it is sunnah to hold the walimah after the marriage has been consummated. As narrated by Sayyiduna Anas ibn Malik RA:
It (the order of Hijab) was revealed for the first time when the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) had consummated his marriage with Zainab bint Jahsh (RA). The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) in the morning was a bridegroom, and he invited the people to a banquet. So they came, ate, and then all left except for a few who remained with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) for a long time (Bukhari)
As such, if the walimah is planned to be, say, on a Sunday afternoon (the common practice in Singapore), it is sunnah to hold the nikah ceremony on Saturday evening.
According to some scholars, the walimah can be held as latest as 3 days after the nikah ceremony.
Wait! So now I have to book for two separate events? But you advised me not to spend in excess!
Yes, but keep in mind that Islam has kept the procedure for Nikah very simple. You need not spend too much booking caterers or bridal companies for your nikah, and you don’t need to invite the whole town to observe the nikah.
Anas reported regarding the wedding of the prophet and Safiyya bint Huyayy:
He (the Holy Prophet) granted her freedom and then married her. On the way Umm Sulaim embellished her and then sent her to him (the Holy Prophet) at night. Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) appeared as a bridegroom in the morning. He (the Holy Prophet) said: He who has anything (to eat) should bring that. Then the cloth was spread. A person came with cheese, another came with dates, and they prepared hais and that was the wedding feast (walimah) of Allah’s Messenger (pbuh). (Sahih Muslim)
In modern terms, this would be called a ‘potluck’. Hence a suggestion that I would like to extend here is perhaps invite only your immediate family members to the nikah ceremony, and each of the two families would bring their own food for a simple gathering after the nikah or a mini-walimah, if you will. Your other extended family members and friends can be invited the next day for the actual banquet or walimah. This may help reduce costs!
In Singapore, the costs and details for booking mosque venues are displayed on their sites and they are all highly affordable. Do some research on the mosques you prefer according to your budget, the distance from your house, and the number of people you are inviting. For example, Masjid Asyafaah in Sembawang is relatively new and air-conditioned, and they have a separate prayer hall for nikah ceremonies so your ceremony will not disrupt the other people who are praying.
- Do not forego your obligatory prayers.
I’m not sure if this even needs to be mentioned.
Note that according to madhhab Shafii, skin contact between spouses will invalidate the wudhu as well. It would be good to inform your make-up artists beforehand that you may need them to help remove & re-do your make-up at certain timings, e.g. after your nikah as there are several ‘danger times’ during your nikah ceremony that warrant some skin contact.
- Minimize make-up. This is for two reasons:
- Heavy make-up will make it a pain-in-the-ass for your make-up artists to remove & re-do for you to take wudhu. You can’t guarantee you will be able to keep your wudhu.
- There is bound to be non-mahram men in your walimah. Displaying of beauty to them is tabarruj, and is a grave sin.
Since we have mentioned tabarruj, it would be good to mention that taking photos for memories is fine. But once you upload excessive numbers of photos of your dolled up face onto the social media (for the world, including non-mahram men, to see), then it is deemed as tabarruj and should be avoided. This doesn’t apply just to weddings.
- Adhere to the prohibition of music
I’m still struggling with this one. It is clear that music is prohibited in Islam, but a malay-Muslim wedding in Singapore without music is almost non-existent. I’m not sure why this is the case, seeing that the rulings are clear.
EDIT: Nasheed can be played during the wedding, if one wishes. However, take note that there are nasheeds nowadays that are, in fact, haram; you may refer to this link for more details. I’ve found some really nice voice-only wedding nasheeds on YouTube (which are not too heavy on the auto-tune) and we’re probably going to play them during our wedding, in shaa allah.
That is all for now. I feel like I’ve missed out on many more points I wanted to raise, but hopefully I will share them in the future. Insha’Allah, this will not be my first post on weddings and marriages.
Some of these tips may contradict what is usually done according to our culture, at least in Singapore. Just keep in mind that we exist not to please society, but to please our Creator.
However, I do understand that we may want our weddings to be a certain way, but our parents don’t. Too often I’ve had arguments with my mum telling her that I want only a small wedding and I don’t want to invite people that I barely knew, but with my mum responding with “Oh, if we don’t invite them I’d be embarrassed…”
When faced with these kinds of situations, try to conduct these discussions in a civil and kind manner. Try to reach a compromise and at the end of the day, you have to respect your parents and their decisions.
Do not even consider taking loans for your wedding. Do not even borrow from family members or people you deem to be close friends. I believe this has been aptly emphasized during the Marriage Preparatory Course, so I won’t elaborate much. If you can’t afford it, don’t take it.
And Allah knows best.
UPDATES – along the way if I come across additional tips I’ll dump them here 🙂
9. It is sunnah to hold the wedding in the month of Shawwal. Saidatina Aisha R.A. narrated that:
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) contracted marriage with me in Shawwal and took me to his house as a bride during Shawwal. And who among the wives of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) was dearer to him than I, and’ A’isha liked that the women (of her family) should enter the houses as brides during the month of Shawwal (Sahih Muslim)